Much of the early history of Cedar County involves the Indian inhabitants, the Ponca, Omaha, and Sioux. Several prehistoric and historic Indian villages were located in the region. In 1804, Lewis and Clark ascended the Missouri River near here during their exploration of the Louisiana Territory. From August 28-31, they held a council with the Sioux at Calumet Bluff, now the southern abutment of Gavins Point Dam.
Permanent settlement occurred during the 1850's and 1860's and formed the basis for Cedar County's future development. The county was organized by act of the territorial legislature on February 12, 1857. St. James was the county seat until 1869, when it was moved to St. Helena. Hartington, near the center of the count, was selected as the permanent county seat in an 1885 election.
The Cedar County courthouse was constructed at a cost of $19,000 in 1891-1892 during the terms of County Commissioners John Lorang, Theodore Beste, and Joseph Morten. Designed by J. C. Stitt, the building is an example of a simple Romanesque style of architecture and was constructed of brick manufactured locally. One of the contractors was Henry Stuckenhoff of Hartington, who also helped build many of the churches and early commercial buildings in Cedar County.
Cedar County Historical Society
Nebraska State Historical Society
Court House, Hartington